Monday, October 29, 2018

Scary Movie

Keeping in the spirit of things Halloweenie, I would like to mention here that there is a remake of Pet Sematary coming to a theater near you in 2019. This will be thirty years since the original film, adapted from the novel by Stephen King, made its way to the screen. I confess that at the time the first one came out, I was creeped out, but not to the point where it gave me nightmares or caused me to change my opinion of cats.
I do remember my older brother's reaction. He and I had gone to enough scary movies together to appreciate all the things that go into making a horror show. On the way out, he was looking down, and I asked the obvious question: "Didn't you like it?"
To which he replied, "They had to mess with the kid." Having read the book before seeing the movie, I knew that the little boy and the cat were going to have to go to a bad place to make the story work. But my brother was a new father, and the idea that anyone would "mess with the kid" struck a dark chord with him.
Now I am a father too, and I understand exactly what he meant. Once I became a dad, I found it difficult to watch Steven Spielberg movies, since he more than just about any director I can name, tends to move his screen stories along by putting children in danger. Which is a device that works, certainly, but also cuts deepest for those of us who can imagine what it would be like to have a shark bite their little boy in half. Or why a grieving father would carry his dead son to a Native American burial ground to see if the "magic" that brought the family cat back might do the same for his little boy.
Even if it meant that little boy wasn't quite "right."
Looking back on Halloweens past, I remember the grief of losing a friend to a car crash. I remember the way it felt like I was living in a movie, or a pop song. At the time I could not comprehend what it would have been like to lose a son. So full of promise. Such a bright light. Such a tremendously funny person. Another generation. Gone.
And since then, I have come to the belief that no one should have to bury their own child. I have a twenty-one year old son, and I know his life has just begun. I cannot imagine what that loss would feel like. I don't want to.
Don't mess with the kid.

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